Conflict erupted in the Tigray region between the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Ethiopian federal government, leading to a humanitarian crisis and reports of atrocities..
The Tigray War is an ongoing conflict that began in November 2020 in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia. It is primarily between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the region. The conflict has deep historical and political roots, and it has involved multiple parties, including the federal government, regional forces, and neighboring countries.
Tensions between the TPLF and the Ethiopian federal government had been escalating for several years. The TPLF was the dominant party in Ethiopia's ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), for nearly three decades. However, the political landscape shifted dramatically when Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in 2018. Abiy implemented significant reforms, including disbanding the EPRDF and forming a new party, the Prosperity Party, which the TPLF refused to join, viewing it as an attempt to centralize power and diminish regional autonomy.
The immediate trigger for the war was the TPLF's decision to hold regional elections in September 2020, defying a federal postponement of all elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government declared the Tigray election illegal, and relations continued to deteriorate. In early November, the federal government accused the TPLF of attacking a federal military base in Tigray to steal weapons, which the TPLF denied. In response, Prime Minister Abiy ordered a military offensive, stating it was a law enforcement operation aimed at restoring the rule of law.Eritrean forces were reported to have entered the conflict on the side of the Ethiopian federal government, although both governments initially denied this. The presence of Eritrean troops has been widely criticized due to reports of widespread human rights abuses. There have been numerous reports of massacres, sexual violence, and other atrocities. Humanitarian access to the region has been severely restricted, leading to a dire humanitarian crisis with reports of famine-like conditions.
Despite the Ethiopian government's declaration of victory in late November 2020 after capturing the regional capital, Mekelle, the TPLF continued to wage a guerrilla campaign. The conflict has persisted, marked by periodic escalations and attempts at diplomatic negotiations.
International actors, including the African Union and the United Nations, have called for ceasefires and dialogue, but the path to a sustainable peace has been fraught with challenges. Efforts to mediate the conflict have been complicated by deep-seated mutual distrust, demands for preconditions, and continued military engagements.
The war has led to a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of deaths and reports of war crimes. Millions of people have been displaced, and there is a severe need for food aid and basic services in Tigray and the surrounding regions affected by the conflict.